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In Massachusetts, spousal maintenance, commonly known as alimony, is a court ordered allowance that one spouse, who has the ability, pays to the spouse in need for a reasonable time. The length of time the recipient spouse gets alimony is based on the length of the marriage. Rehabilitative is a special type of alimony that is intended to help the recipient to become self-supporting and ordered to be paid for a short period of time. It is support given to a lesser-earning spouse for a period of time necessary to acquire work and become self-sufficient. Furthermore, if the joint income of the spouses exceeds $250,000 annually and there are minor children, alimony is denied.

Factors for awarding alimony include:

  1. contribution of the parties in the acquisition of their respective estates;
  2. contribution of the parties in the preservation of their respective estates;
  3. contribution of the parties in the appreciation of their respective estates; and
  4. contribution of one of the parties as a homemaker.

Alimony generally terminates after a specified term, death of either spouse, or automatically if the recipient spouse remarries or cohabitates with another.

If either spouse wishes to modify the alimony court order, most jurisdictions, including Massachusetts, require the requesting party to show there has been a substantial change in circumstances that rendered the original award unreasonable and unfair.

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